indian myth

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@mythologicalnet  Spring Deities Event {2/3}

Flora  ➳ ➳ ➳  goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers. While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth

Sita  ➳ ➳ ➳  central female character of the Hindu epic Ramayana and daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife queen Sunaina. elder sister of Urmila and cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti. consort of Hindu god Rama  and is an avatar of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and wife of Vishnu. esteemed as a paragon of spousal and feminine virtues for all Hindu women. known for her dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity.

[F]rom the 10 million [indigenous people] that once inhabited North America, after four centuries of settler invasion and rule there were in 1900 perhaps 200,000-300,000 surviving descendants in the U.S.A. That was the very substantial down-payment towards the continuing blood price that Third-World nations have to pay to sustain the Euro-Amerikan way of life.

So when we hear that the settlers “pushed out the Indians” or “forced the Indians to leave their traditional hunting grounds”, we know that these are just codephrases to refer politely to the most barbaric genocide imaginable. It could well be the greatest crime in all of human history. Only here the Adolph Eichmanns and Heinrich Himmlers had names like Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson.

The point is that genocide was not an accident, not an “excess”, not the unintended side-effect of virile European growth. Genocide was the necessary and deliberate act of the capitalists and their settler shocktroops. The “Final Solution” to the “Indian Problem” was so widely expected by whites that it was openly spoken of as a commonplace thing. At the turn of the century a newspaper as “respectable” as the New York Times could editorially threaten that those peoples who opposed the new world capitalist order would “be extinguished like the North American Indian.”

—  Settlers: The Myth of tne White Working Class (1989)
A List of Flood Myths

You may have learned or heard that the flood myth is one of the most common myths in the world. Cultures disconnected for thousands of years share surprisingly similar myths about the world drowning, and a person or a handful of people surviving and repopulating the world. Here’s a short list of some of those flood myths.

  • Gilgamesh flood myth of ancient Babylonia
  • Noah and the ark in Genesis
  • Masai mythology says all the rivers in the world flooded, but the gods warned two people to build a boat
  • One Indian myth written around 700 BCE says Matsya (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a fish) forewarns Manu (a human) about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world onto a boat
  • in Greek mythology, the Ogygian Deluge ended the Silver Age, and the flood of Deucalion ended the First Bronze Age
  • Nüwa, an ancient Chinese goddess, saved the world when floods and fires covered it after a battle between gods
  • in Finnish lore, Väinämöinen had a wound that bled so much the entire world flooded and people had to construct a boat to survive
  • Australian aboriginals had the myth of Tiddalik, a frog who was so thirsty he drank all the fresh water in the world. When animals conspired to release the water, it replenished the lakes, swamps and rivers
  • the Inca believed a flood around Lake Titicaca killed all but two, who repopulated the world

Stone sculpture depicting a Vimana,  flying machines in ancient India (1200 b.c.),  Many Sanskrit epics, which were written in India more than two millennia ago, contain references to mythical flying machines called vimanas. Pointing to similarities between descriptions of vimanas and reports by people who claim to have seen UFOs, ancient alien theorists have suggested that astronauts from other planets visited India during ancient times.

6

“Native Americans were and are real, but the stereotypical Indian is not… the white stereotype of the “silent, stoic Indian” is a myth.”

BEGINNINGS: INDIAN STYLE

IN THE BEGINNING, ALL THERE IS IS THE FUCKING SEA, AND ALSO A FEW GODS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE GODS AREN’T IMMORTAL. THAT’S A BIT OF A SHIT SITUATION FOR THEM TO BE IN, SO THEY DECIDE TO FIX IT BEFORE ANYONE CAN FUCK ANYTHING UP. IN ORDER TO CREATE SOMA (THE MAGIC IMMORTALITY JUICE), THEY MAKE A FUCKING MASSIVE MOUNTAIN AND PARK IT ON TOP OF A GIANT FUCKING TURTLE. THEY TIE ANANTA THE GIANT SNAKE DEMON ROUND THE FUCKING MOUNTAIN, AND USE THE WHOLE ARRANGEMENT AS A MOTHERFUCKING BUTTER CHURN TO CHURN THE SEA.

ANANTA IS SO FUCKING SURPRISED BY BEING TIED AROUND A MOUNTAIN THAT HE THROWS UP. BECAUSE HE’S A FUCKING MASSIVE DEMON, HIS VOMIT IS LIGHTNING AND CLOUDS AND FLOWERS, ALL OF WHICH FUCK SHIT UP SO MUCH THAT ALL THE ANIMALS ON THE MOUNTAIN GET SQUASHED INTO FUCKING MASHED ANIMAL SLUDGE AND ALL THE FUCKING TREES BURN TO THE GROUND. ALL THE ASH AND THE LUMPS OF SQUASHED ANIMAL RUN DOWN INTO THE SEA, AND THE SEA TURNS INTO FUCKING MAGIC MILK. 

THE GODS CHURN THE MILK, AND ALL THE IMPORTANT BITS OF THE WORLD RISE UP OUT OF IT. SOME OF IT TURNS INTO SOMA AND THEY DRINK IT, BUT THE REST OF THE MILK SEA TURNS INTO MOTHERFUCKING BUTTER. SO NOW THE WORLD EXISTS AND THE GODS ARE IMMORTAL, BUT THE SEA IS MADE OF FUCKING BUTTER. FORTUNATELY VISHNU REALLY FUCKING LOVES BUTTER, SO THAT’S NOT AS BIG A PROBLEM AS IT SOUNDS. IT’S STILL PRETTY FUCKING WEIRD THOUGH.

anonymous asked:

Hey! I'm the person who asked about the chapbooks! The following female (as far as I know) tumblr users have written poetry chapbooks based on mythologies, with several/all poems based around female goddess/mythological characters: GREEK MYTH: @poemsforpersephone "Poems for Persephone", @starredsouls, "FROM BETWEEN LYRE STRINGS", @rishwrites "#FDD017 (Golden) // INDIAN MYTH: @sunrisesongs, "INCARNATE". I'd share the links, but I'm out of space - they are all free/under $5. Cheap + very good!

Helloooooo anon! I’m so glad to hear from you again this is exciting :D Let me just repeat all that info with corresponding links for the ease of use of whoever is into this as well. Here we go: 

POETRY AND CHAPBOOKS BY WOMEN ABOUT WOMEN IN MYTHOLOGY

Greek mythology

Indian mythology

@mythpoetrynet​ publishes poems that are inspired by mythologies from all around the world.

I will retroactively add the poems about Greek mythology to the corresponding list, and I was already planning on doing a rec for Indian mythology, so I will definitely add Incarnate (and any other poems and / or chapbooks I find during my research) to that as well.

And @anon thank you so much for sharing these, I honestly would not have thought of looking for poetry if left to my own devices. If anyone else has similar suggestions and / or ideas about writing I could include in my women in mythology recs, please let me know maybe?

anonymous asked:

I have no idea if this has been asked before but do you have any recommendations for book regarding Native American mythology?

I think you’re the first to ask! c: American Indian Myths and Legends and American Indian Trickster Tales are good places to start, especially if you’re looking for collections of stories/legends/tales/etc.

Most of the Native American books I have in my personal library are history or language books, but a few of them also cover quite a bit of the mythological/religious aspects. The stuff I read is very tribe-specific (thanks to UNWANTED), but if you’re interested in history, as well, I can recommend Book of the Hopi and The Book of the Navajo—pretty comprehensive!

The hemispheric nervousness inspired by Hamilton’s ghost in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries bespeaks of creole anxieties haunting debates in the late eighteenth century over Hamilton, his national stature, and his West Indian origins. Significantly, myths involving Hamilton’s questionable paternity have proven notably persistent. During his bid for reelection in 1792, mudslinging rivals resentful of Hamilton’s domineering influence over Washington’s political and economic policies accused the President of having fathered his illegitimate Treasury Secretary while in Barbados. In the early twentieth century, a biographical novel about Hamilton by Gertrude Atherton resurrected the political slander against Washington and ironically suggested its veracity. In The Conequeror (1901), Atherton suggests it was inconceivable that such a brilliant and influential American statesman could have been conceived by a dissolute West Indian father, an anxiety registered, not coincidentally, at the dawn of a new epoch in U.S. nationalism and imperialism.

[Footnote] See Atherton’s Adventures of a Novelist, in which she recalls the political intrigue of the 1790s surrounding Washington’s alleged paternity to Hamilton and remarks, “Interesting if true.” She provokes her reader’s curiosity further by noting that her research (erroneously) revealed that Washington was on the island of Barbados in 1756, the same year that Hamilton’s mother, Rachel, was on the island. In fact, Washington had been in Barbados with a convalescing brother in 1752 - his experiences there left an indelible impression on him regarding what he perceived to be unnatural and destructive gaps in socioeconomic status between affluent whites and poor whites and black slaves in the West Indies. It was the only time Washington ever traveled outside the continental United States.

The rumor reveals how the West Indies denoted contagion (Barbados; Rachel; Hamilton) to an ostensibly pure national character (Washington) and virtue (republicanism). John Hamilton inaugurated another legend about the legitimacy of his father’s birth in his early nineteenth-century biography, a legend perpetuated by Hamilton’s descendants. John founded the myth, which subsequent examinations of deeds and records have disproved, that Hamilton’s father and Rachel were legally married. The recent debate surrounding the paternity of Jefferson’s black progeny can be compared in interesting ways to the controversies over Hamilton’s origins and suggests how crucial matters involving race and sexuality are to the “legitimacy” of national figures and icons.

In that regard, consider Toni Morrison’s comment in The New Yorker in which she identifies Bill Clinton as the nation’s first “black” president. She argues that Clinton’s origins - his poor, rural Southern upbringing, his close relationship with the black community - account for what she perceives to be an unwavering assault by the right on President Clinton’s personal life and character. States Morrison, “the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, [and] when he was metaphorically seized and body-searched, who could gainsay…black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear: ‘No matter how smart you are, how hard you work…we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow’”. Like Morrison, this chapter’s arguments are interested in the ways in which attacks directed at a politician’s “body” (Hamilton’s) disclose fears about that politician’s contamination of the “body politic” (the early Republic).

—  Sean Goudie, Creole America: The West Indies and the Formation of Literature and Culture in the New Republic
Skinwalker

I don’t consider myself to be a particularly superstitious person. Ok sure, I get a kick out of the horoscope once in a while, my boyfriend and I like to humor the idea that spirits and poltergeists exist and how we’d haunt people when we died and came back as ghosts. In fact, my boyfriend refuses to go anywhere near an Ouija Board. Refuses to even think of it. I blame all the crummy horror movies he watches.
“Why even tempt it?” he’d say. “Why would you want to taunt evil ghosts like that? Ghosts never play fair and if you piss one off you’re screwed!”
I don’t think he was ever serious. Just precautionary.
But maybe he was right.
God, this all happened so long ago, but I’m still shaken. Can barely write about it now without my nerves acting up.
Ok, here it goes. A few weeks ago my mom, sis, and I went to Colorado for an entire week on vacation. We were going to drive all over the state, visit parks and go horseback riding and whitewater rafting and so much more. I was excited. And I sorely needed a break from work, anyway.
We drove 16 hours out there, and spent our first day rafting down the rivers. After an exciting day we drove to a ranch house to go horseback riding. We got there at sunset, so it was too late to ride, but we had all next day to ride the trails and see the sights. The ranch was … dumpy. All run-down with scraps of steel everywhere and the shoddy cabins that we were staying in were in desperate need for repair. I swear the roof over our shack of a cabin was a giant piece of drywall with shingles stapled to the top. My sister and I thoroughly checked the place for spiders and bugs before we even thought of bringing our luggage inside.
It was only for the night, I reassured myself. Just one night in a dumpy shack on a rock-hard bed that probably had bed bugs under the sheets. I shuddered at the thought.
My mom tried to cheer us up. She had brought skewers and a pack of giant beef hot dogs to roast over the communal fire pit. Happy to get out of the shack, my sister and I made a nice cozy fire, and soon a few other people from the other cabins came out to sit around the fire and roast s’mores and share stories. We talked about where we were from, where we were going, and our adventures along the way. Pretty soon the stories turned into tall tales and urban legends and the sort of stuff you’d usually tell around a bonfire.
That’s when I spoke up. I loved stories, especially scary ones. And hey, we’re out west, we’re in Native American territory, why not liven the place up with my favorite Indian myth, the legend of the Skinwalkers.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, Skinwalkers are considered very evil, very dangerous beings. They were humans who gained the ability to take on the form of an animal by wearing its skin, usually through very dark and taboo magic. I knew all this, and told my story. Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?
Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. I admit I took some creative liberties with it, really just retelling an old werewolf story but with a skinwalker instead. I bullshitted a lot of the story, really, and added a few things that weren’t in the mythos at all. I gave our beloved frightening skinwalker wide, crazed eyes with pinpoints for pupils with a matching insane smile. I made the skinwalker horribly misshapen with swollen joints and arms that were too long and legs that were too short and a head that never sat straight on its shoulders. I made it as terrifying as I could imagine.
No one minded. They actually really liked it and a man from Kentucky admitted the visuals alone were enough to creep him out. Victory in my book, if you ask me. And once I was done everyone decided it was getting really late, our firewood was dwindling and it was as good a time as any to turn in for the night. We packed up our skewers and s’mores, doused the fire, and headed to our little shacks.
I tossed and turned a lot trying to fall asleep. Couldn’t get comfortable on that damn bed. A rock was probably cozier than that mattress. So against my better judgment, I got out of bed, and walked about the cabin. I reasoned that if I stayed up late enough, I would be so tired that I would fall asleep no matter what I was laying on. I think I briefly contemplated sleeping on the floor. I wasn’t that desperate yet.
It was pitch-black outside. No lights from any nearby street lamps, no car headlights, hell, not even the cabin lights were on. And I don’t remember seeing a single star. It was a bit creepy, but I shrugged off the shiver creeping up my back as simply the cold tile floor making me shake.
I did, however, find it odd there weren’t any lights on at all on the property. You’d think there’d be a floodlight on the horse stables or on the main office, but no, nothing. This was really weird. I stepped outside in my flimsy foam flip flops to get a better look. I could barely make out the ranch. And for some stupid fucking reason I decided to go walking around.
Eventually my eyes adjusted where I could see well enough to move around. I paced up and down the road where the cabins sat and circled around to the fenced in field where the horses were out grazing. Except there weren’t any horses. Probably in the stables for the night, I reasoned. I shivered again. It was getting awfully cold.
I turned right around to head back to my own cabin. It was stupid of me to be out all alone at an obscene hour, I had realized. I needed to get to bed.
But when I turned, there was something in the middle of the road. Its shape was swallowed up by the surrounding darkness; I could barely make it out. It was tall and thin. I shrugged it off as just a pole or something else and kept walking but then it moved.
I froze. My breath caught in my throat and I could barely breathe. I just imagined that, I said. I just imagined it, I’m freaking myself out, get your fucking head straight!
It moved again. My paralyzed throat managed to squeak out a pathetically weak whimper as my legs began to lose strength. I shivered violently against a cold that was building up inside of me.
My eyes began to focus on the impossibly dark figure standing against a barely visible sleet grey night. Now I could see it. It was … it was a person, but like nothing I had ever seen before.
Its arms were impossibly long. Its legs impossibly short. It had a torso far too long for its rail thin body and a head much too big for its stick neck.
Its right arm was sticking out to its side, swinging up and down. Its blockish head, rolled onto its left shoulder, jerkily twitched up and down, up and down. It didn’t move other than that, just stood there, twitching, arms jerking up and down, head lolling around its shoulder. I still stood there like the dumbfuck I was. My cabin was a few hundred yards behind that … thing. And I wasn’t so stupid as to try to walk past it. My only option was to go around, behind the cabins and the stables and hope it didn’t see me.
I forced myself to lift my foot off the ground to step backwards. My flipflop made a wet smacking sound as it flopped against my feet and I immediately froze in horror. The thing stopped too. It stood there perfectly straight, perfectly still, listening. I stayed as still as I could. My breath was shallow and panicked and I tried to force myself to slow my breathing before I started wheezing. My heart thundered in my chest, my whole body was shaking. But I didn’t move. Neither did it.
I began to slowly, so goddamn slowly, bend over and slipped my feet out of those fucking flip-flops. My feet touched the dirt and the crumbly gravel, but at least now I could move silently. I spared a quick glance to the side to see where I was going. Two cabins were immediately to my right. I could slip between them with ease, as there was no visible debris between them.
I only looked away for a second. When I turned back that fucking thing was gone. It was fucking gone, it fucking knew I was there, it was coming for me, oh fuck! Yet I still couldn’t fucking move! I was paralyzed, I couldn’t move no matter how loud my head screamed run run RUN YOU FUCK, RUN! I heard something behind me. I turned instinctively, even though I knew fucking better I still turned the fuck around!
I was greeted with two bulging eyes, oh fuck, its eyes! Staring at me unblinking with two black pinholes for pupils and an insane smile that was stretched far too wide to be anything remotely human.
My paralysis broke as I stared at that fucking thing. I ran, I fucking ran, crying my eyes out, trying to scream but a horrible lead weight in my throat silenced me. My feet pounded on the dirt, I stomped over anything in my way, I even impaled my foot on a sharp motherfucking rock, I didn’t fucking care I just fucking ran!
I felt the cold creeping up my back, oh god, that cold! It was sinking right into my bones and I couldn’t stop shaking or sobbing and I didn’t stop until I burst through the cabin doors and dead bolted the lock and leaped into my bed. I huddled under the blankets, hiding my head and there I gasped and shook for breath.
And I waited.
I didn’t sleep that entire night. I was too scared, I couldn’t get rid of that chill. All I thought about was that thing … standing there and twitching …
Morning finally broke and I finally allowed breath of relief. Whatever I had seen had not come for me, and now that it was light it couldn’t take me by surprise. Mom noticed my bleeding foot, and the blood I tracked through the cabin. I shrugged it off, said I cut myself the night before when we were making s’mores. I don’t think she believed me but she didn’t push it.
We left not long after that. And as we left I looked at the place where that thing once stood and I shuddered again. But there was nothing. I assured myself, there was nothing.
We said good-bye to the ranchers and to our companions, and I noticed the man from Kentucky who said had thoroughly enjoyed my story. He told me again how much he liked it. Said he was going to tell it to his own kids when he got home. They really liked scary stories, he said.
And as we drove away, his head rolled onto his left shoulder, and he smiled a wide, insane smile as he waved us good-bye …

DAY 2412

       New Delhi, Ob Gu          Nov  22,  2014            Sat  11:49 pm

The PIKU done in pop art .. which Shweta says is the ‘in’ thing among the young .. I really wonder how why and .. does it really work for a 73 year old !

Anyway ..

Many have wanted the speech on the IFFI at Goa .. so much against my embarrassed limit here it is ..

 2014 IFFI SPEECH DRAFT /Goa, Nov 20,  2014

Her Excellency the Governor of Goa, Shrimati Mridula Sinha ,

Honorable Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley,

Honorable Defence Minister, Shri Manohar Parrikar

Honorable Chief Minister of Goa Shri Laxmikant Parsekar,

Honorable Minister of State for I&B, Col Rajyavardhan Rathore

My dear friend and colleague Rajnikant

Distinguished guests on the dais, delegates, members of the media .. and the loving, warm and hospitable people of Goa ..

Ladies and Gentleman

It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be here at the Inaugural of one of the most significant film festivals of the country, the International Film Festival of India 2014, being hosted in Goa.

My compliments and gratitude first to the Government and the Ministry, in declaring Goa as the permanent venue for this prestigious Festival, and for inviting me here as the Chief Guest.

Goa, is the smallest state in India, and with its miles of golden beaches, crystal clear waters, brilliant green landscapes, interesting cuisine and charming local residents, it is truly an exotic destination.

As they say in Konkani, and I endorse this from the bottom of my heart :

“Maka Goeya boray lakta !”

For the uninitiated .. that is ‘I love Goa’ in the State’s official language !

For me, personally,  Goa holds extremely precious memories. My links with this beautiful state go back to my very first film, ‘Saat Hindustani’, that was shot here and revolved around the theme of nationalists who slip into Portuguese-occupied Goa to raise patriotic sentiments and hoist the Indian flag.

 I have of course, since, shot many of my memorable films here and keep visiting this paradise in a personal capacity too. My connections with Goa indeed, are very special.

In many ways, Goa is a miniature reflection of India’s antiquity and diverse cultures. It encases, like the rest of our country, a tremendous sense of ‘unity in diversity.’

Goa’s checkered history is immense.

From rock art engravings, testimony to traces of early human life in India from the  Palaeolithic Era …

Indo-Aryan migrancy - which formed the base of early Goan culture …

Being part of the 3rd century BC( or to be more ehically correct ,BCE – Before Common Era) Mauryan Empire, ruled by the Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka of Magadha …

It being controlled during the 2nd and 6th century BC by Southern Silharas of Konkan, later the Bhojas of Gujarat, the Chalukyas of Badami, who patronized Jainism, to 1469 and the Bahami Sultans of Gulbarg, and after its crumbling, falling into the hands of the Portuguese, who ruled over it for four and a half centuries .. this part of the country has seen it all ..

Goa’s multicultural, inclusive and pluralistic ethos reflects a gamut of India’s larger cultural values and political and social concerns that have been reflected in our cinema for over a hundred years. The largest industry in the world, now marking its centenary, Indian cinema expands much beyond the confines of the Hindi-language popular films. We have productions in regional tongues such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Oriya, Bengali and Kokani as well.

The so called ‘parallel cinema’ or the ‘art house cinema’ has also co existed in various languages, prominently through one of our most celebrated film maker, Satyajit Ray.

Then, there is the emerging ‘independent cinema’ that is slowly making an impact on English-speaking, metropolitan audiences, all of them, by and large, specifically rooted to a pan India identity, with common sensibilities and principles.  

Art was traditionally confined to paintings and writings in our country until people were introduced to the silver screen, in 1913. Our early filmmakers comprehended the immense power of the screen and soon the medium was accepted as a popular platform to voice several societal concerns.

India’s very first feature film, Dadasaheb Phalke’s ‘Raja Harishchandra’, discovered its theme from the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata, and espoused the belief that Truth always triumphs.  

Thus, from the very early years of silent films, Indian cinema developed an admirable ability to converge on different facets of life. Dhirendra Nath Ganguly’s ‘Bilet Ferat’ or ‘England Returned,’ directed and produced by him in 1921 in Bengali, was a telling vehicle that got the audience to think of a tricky social situation where natives blindly imitated their foreign rulers and created fresh problems for themselves.

In 1925, Baburao Painter made ‘Savkari Pash’ (‘The Indian Shylock’) in Marathi, produced by Maharashtra Film Company, Kolhapur, which painted an extremely realistic picture of the country’s rural poor who were subjected to feudal oppression, poverty and hunger. Perhaps it is still the most outstanding film of the silent era where V. Shantaram and Kamala Devi enacted the roles of an oppressed farmer and his wife.  

By 1926, India boasted 300 cinemas halls and countless travelling bioscopes, but ninety percent of the films shown were imported from Hollywood, almost exclusively from Universal Studios.

Himanshu Rai, one of India’s pioneering filmmakers, wanted to change this. With his enthusiasm and passion, our cinema soon received a fresh impetus that came all the way from Germany.

Today, Franz Osten is hardly ever mentioned in film history books. But he remains a precursor in the development of cinema in our country in association with Himanshu Rai. They took feature films out of the studios and into the world, giving their creations an authentic quality by combining documentary techniques with narratives drawn from the myths and legends of ancient India. Seventy years before Bertolucci’s ‘Little Buddha,’ Osten and Rai gave Western audiences a keen insight into Indian philosophy.

Post the First World War and its horrors, most European countries experienced not only an introspective mood, but also severe political and cultural isolation. This led to recession, unemployment, endless queues outside Salvation Army kitchens and political radicalization. People were impoverished, not only socially and politically, but also intellectually and morally. In the trenches of Verdun and the Somme, many soldiers lost faith in the culture of the West. In the aftermath, in 1922, Hermann Hesse published his Western equivalent to Buddhism, ‘Siddhartha’. Brecht showed his interest in Buddhist philosophy in his ‘Book of Transformations’ and several other European thinkers shared the longing for India and her eternal message of peace and non-violence. Franz Osten and Himanshu Rai’s silent films, therefore, were of great significance, telling Indian stories about the life of the Buddha in ‘The Light of Asia’ released in 1925. They also drew from the great collection of Indian myths and legends and, like Phalke, used The Mahabarata as the base for ‘The Throw of Dice’ made in 1929.

Slowly but surely, our cinema developed a unique language that combined philosophical preoccupations and patriotic fervor. Films like ‘Jogan’, ‘Guide’ and, much later, ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, spread over several decades, took forward the theme of personal evolution and spiritual emancipation.

Nationalistic ideals were an integral part of early silent era films. ‘Udaykaal’, starring V. Shantaram in the role of Shivaji, caught the eye of the British censor who rightly sensed an attempt to disguise modern-day feelings of patriotism with a historical theme and came down heavily on the release of the film. Another early-day film, ‘Bhakt Vidur’, met with similar disapproval when the British censors felt that the character of Vidur was too closely modeled on Mahatma Gandhi and spoke suspiciously patriotic dialogue, which was too contemporary for comfort.  

During the 1930s and 1940s, once our movies learnt to ‘talk’, several filmmakers tried to reflect tough collective issues or used India’s struggle for independence as a backdrop for patriotic plots. The early-day vigil seems to have been relaxed a bit by the 1940s when British censors allowed composer Anil Biswas and lyricist Pradeep to get away with the highly volatile song:

 “Aaj Himalaya ki choti se hum ne yeh lalkara hai/Dur hato, dur hato ae duniya walo Hindustan hamara hai…”  from the film ‘Kismet’.

 “We have shouted from Himalayan heights today/ Get away! Get away!/ O citizens of the world, India belongs to us… “

By 1952, ‘Anandmath’, an epic saga based on the novel by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, showcasing the planned conspiracy against British rule in Bengal during the famous Bengal Femine, became a runaway hit. Later, other films, including  ‘Shaheed’, ‘Border’, ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swades’, ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Lakshya’, took forward the patriotic spirit with unequivocal zeal. Mani Ratnam's ‘Roja’ in 1992 was, perhaps, the first film to introduce terrorism to Indian cinema, and reflected sensitively on the common man’s plight. Later, films like ‘Drohkaal,’ ‘Maachis,’ and Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Haider’, set in contemporary Kashmir, have also mirrored this theme with great poignancy.   

In the 1930s, while Gandhi-ji was already working for the uplift of untouchables, Niranjan Pal penned the script of ‘Acchut Kanya’ released in 1936 that dealt with a Dalit girl falling in love with a Brahmin’s son. Bimal Roy also reflected on this theme of an untouchable girl losing her heart to a boy above her social status and caste in ‘Sujata’ released in 1959. And as late as 2001, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’, a huge box office success, dealt with class divide – the elite versus the proletariat. 

In the initial lot of films released immediately after independence, policemen and judges who had come to represent the moral authority of the state acquired a new gravitas. The courtroom became sacred as a ‘social temple’ where Truth could never be denied or compromised. A morally erring judge could himself be indicted in court, as essayed in ‘Awaara’, made in 1951. Other motifs of importance included secularism as early as 1943 when it became evident that Hindus and Muslims would have to live together in independent India. Mehboob Khan's ‘Najma’ released in 1943 and ‘Humayun’, released in 1945, are good examples as is a classic like M. S. Sathyu’s ‘Garam Hava’ released in 1973, followed by ‘Bazaar’ and ‘Nikaah’, both released in 1982. Muzaffar Ali’s ‘Anjuman’ and Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ also ruminated on communal concerns centered on Muslim families.

Then came agrarian unrest and land reform in the late 1940s and 1950s, led by Chetan Anand’s ‘Neecha Nagar’ in 1946, Bimal Roy’s classic ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ in 1953 and Mehboob Khan’s ‘Mother India’ in 1956. The image of the virtuous mother who did not think twice before gunning down her own son in order to protect a village girl’s honour became iconic as the years went by. 

Another iconic symbol emerged in the characters Raj Kapoor developed, based on Chaplin’s Tramp. In ‘Shri 420’ and ‘Anaari’ he adopted the role of Everyman who recognized the innate corruption in our society. Yet his optimism never failed and when he sang,

’Kisi ki muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar/ Kisi ka dard mil sakey to le udhaar/ Kisi ke waastey ho terey dil mein pyaar/ Jeena isi ka naam hai’,  …our eyes never failed to shed a wealth of tears.

 ‘Lose yourself completely in someone’s smile/ Borrow someone’s sorrow and walk that extra mile/ Fill your heart with love for someone for a while/ That’s what living is all about!’ 

If popular perception is any indicator, then a major part of the social transformation in India can be attributed to cinema’s potentially reformist character. Our cinema continues to explore many diverse themes through the popular medium of entertainment. It imparts information, projects aspirations and helps to nurture harmony. Major concerns like the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities have been movingly showcased in films like ‘Koshish’, ‘Black’, ‘Paa’, ‘Iqbal’, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Guzaarish’.  When we dwell on retribution and honour, we immediately think of ‘Deewar’, ‘Sholay’, ‘Agneepath’, ‘Damini’, ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and ‘Kahaani’. Films upholding traditional Indian family values are beautifully showcased in entertainers like ‘Bawarchi’, ‘Hum Aap ke Hein Kaun?’, ‘Baagbaan’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’. Films like ‘Arth’, ‘Kya Kehna’, ‘Mrityudand’ , ‘English-Vinglish’, ‘Dor’ and ‘Gulab Gang’, to name just a handful, give us a ringside view of women’s struggles in a predominantly patriarchal society where volatile issues like divorce, pre-marital pregnancy, oppression and empowerment have been delineated with great sympathy and compassion.

An overview of the last thirty years champions how Indian cinema has come to terms with the fast changing political, economic and social milieu in the country. The persona of the ‘Angry Young Man’ became a telling vehicle for portraying a dysfunctional system. Yet ‘Good’ always dominated over ‘Evil’ despite enormous social and economic contradictions in larger-than-life cathartic climaxes.

With the process of globalisation in the 1990s, the whole scenario  changed.

Association with cinema, once considered ‘infra dig’ in the early years of its inception, where children from ‘good homes’ were not permitted to be associated with it, where parents, mine included, would ‘whet’ a film before we could be allowed to see one, where cynicism and ridicule accompanied assessment of our popular cinema … has today, become a universally accepted phenomena. I may be ostracized for making this observation, but, in our glorious 5000 year history of culture tradition and existence, cinema in India today, has almost become its ‘parallel culture’ !

When we sit inside a darkened hall to watch a film, we never ask the color, caste, creed, or religion of the person seated next to us. We laugh at the same jokes, we sing the same songs, we cry at the same emotion. In this rapidly disintegrating world of ours, there are very few institutions left that can boast of such integration. Cinema brings people together. It does not divide them. It provides poetic justice in 3 hrs – something you and I may never achieve in a lifetime or perhaps many life times. And as a Russian fan of mine once aptly described Indian popular cinema, it gently coerces you to leave the theatre, with a smile on your face and a dry tear on your cheek …

Women, once barred from being allowed to work in films – the men taking on their parts – became representatives in cinema of great sensitivity and substance. Girls today are far more conscious of their rights, far more outspoken, liberated and independent.

 Today, women in our films reflect their reality, their confidence, independence and their ability to walk and work shoulder to shoulder with men. Several contemporary films embody the vigour and vibrancy of changing times and bear a tremendous capacity to keep abreast with these vicissitudes. 

These are, indeed, exciting times for cinema in India. And to all young filmmakers with fire in their bellies and stars in their eyes a verse from one of my father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poems:

‘Himmat karney waalon ki haar nahin hoti

Leheron se dar kar naiya paar nahin hoti…

Asafalta ek chunauti hai, swikaar karo

Kya kami reh gayi, dekho aur sudhaar karo

Jab tak na saphal ho, neend chain se tyaago tum

Sangharsh karo, maidaan chhod mat bhaago tum

Kuch kiye bina hi jai-jaikaar nahin hoti

Himmat karney waalon ki haar nahin hoti…’

 

‘The brave never quit, never surrender

Fear of  intimidating waves, shall make your chances of crossing slender

Failure is just a choice, a pause – accept it

Where did you slip, reflect and reason – admit it

Don’t rest till victory is finally sealed

Fight on, don’t ever quit the battle field

You cannot gain applause without dedication to your cause

The brave, after all, never quit, never pause…’

  

If the world is a village, we, this fraternity, are the custodians of its stories. We stand, ears pressed, eyes wide open, ready to receive its tales. Tales whispered between lovers in a tight embrace, or wept into shoulders in despair. Raucous roars of laughter and howls of horror. We stand, steadfast, gathering, and then molding these stories before we set them free. Where like many little stars in the night sky, humanity may look upon them with wonderment, and in them find familiar fragments of their hearts.

It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly, it is a beacon passed on thru the generations, from Valmiki and Homer, to Ray and Scorsese, which lights the path of mankind. For if we do not know the stories of our forefathers we cannot write our own.

It is my belief that there are only seven original scripts in the world. At first they were spoken, as much warming as introducing wary visitors, while they sat around makeshift bonfires, to the people they sought congress with. Then they were sung, at weddings and births sometimes even deaths. And when these stories became so well known we began to call them tradition. They were enacted, in village squares and royal durbars, school rooms and amphitheaters – this is how they became beloved by all.

When we gather here at the Goa International Film festival, and watch our stories lit up on celluloid, and discuss the strides made in our craft, we perhaps would do well to remember that we are not unlike those wary travellers huddled around a bonfire listening to tales that became the fabric of our being.

Here we sit and say “these are the stories of my land, the stories of my forefathers, these are the stories of my family, heed them well for the world is a village and we must make good neighbors.”

Ladies and Gentlemen .. its been an honor and a privilege

Amitabh Bachchan